Facebook Gets Fine From Spain for Tracking Users

Spain's privacy protection agency attempts to fine Facebook $1.2m.


The Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, or AEPD for short, has issued a 1.2 million euro fine against Facebook after it claimed that the software company has collected user data without informing its users.

The AEPD is Spain’s major data protection authority and they’ve made the claim that Facebook hasn’t adhered to the European Union privacy laws. The EU privacy laws mention that a company must make it clear to a user when the company is collecting that user’s data.

The AEPD has cited three major instances amongst many that breach the EU privacy laws mentioned above. According to the AEPD, Facebook is going against EU laws by collecting user data on sex, ideology, religious beliefs, personal tastes, and web browsing habits.

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This doesn’t necessarily have to be against EU privacy law, but because the company isn’t informing users of this data collection clearly enough, it holds grounds for AEPD to issue such a large fine.



Other issues have been raised by the AEPD about how Facebook collects information from its users. For example, the AEPD has mentioned that Facebook wasn’t getting specific and informed consent from each of its users. As a result, the social media platform was essentially taking data from their users unfairly and without their permission.

A third major issue with Facebook’s tracking techniques is that the company has been using the ‘like’ button plugin on websites across the internet to track user’s web browsing even when they’re not on the social media website.

The Zuckerberg-owned company hasn’t made it clear enough about the data that’s being collected through this plugin and it’s certainly not made it clear enough about what it is they’re using this data for.

For those unaware, Facebook uses various techniques to gather as much off-site information about its users as possible. It then uses the data it can gather as a method to build a profile of each user. This profile will then help Facebook to categorize its users to help provide businesses with more accurate targeted advertising options.

A fourth major incident brought up in the AEPD’s claim was that Facebook wasn’t entirely removing the collected user data from users that had chosen to delete their accounts from the platform. This would suggest that Facebook was attempting to track user’s data and sell that data to marketing platforms that went far beyond their own platform.

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In the past, a similar case has been made against Facebook – Belgium’s privacy protection authority took the social media giant to court on very similar grounds. In that case, Facebook claimed that they operated from Ireland, which meant Belgium had no jurisdiction against them and their actions.

The same is likely to happen with the Spain versus Facebook case. If the case were to be successful for Spain, it, unfortunately, wouldn’t mean much. Whilst $1.2 million is a large sum of money, it’s essentially chump change for such a large multi-billion corporation.

The social media company has been under fire for almost a decade for constantly breaching user’s privacy rights and using that information to sell to marketers. Whilst Facebook uses its main platform the bulk of its user data collection, it potentially also uses other methods, such as SMS tracking and location tracking from smartphones, to track even more information about a person.

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